“Historical” trial opens with ex-Guinea military ruler blamed for 2009 stadium massacre
Former Guinean president and military ruler Moussa Dadis Camara and 10 other men are set to face trial for a 2009 stadium massacre that saw the killing of 150 people and mass rape of more than 100 women by the country’s security forces.
According to a report by a United Nations-mandated international commission, on 28 September 2009, tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators held a protest in the stadium to pressure Camara not to stand for election as president of Guinea the following year. Camara came to power through a military coup in 2008. Numerous testimonies report how the presidential guard’s Red Berets, police officers and militiamen entered the stadium around noon, cordoned off the exits and opened fire indiscriminately on a crowd that had previously been festive. The killers attacked unarmed civilians with knives, machetes, and bayonets, leaving the stands, corridors and grass strewn with the dead and dying.
Camara had been living in exile in Burkina Faso but returned to Conakry to stand trial and, as his relatives say, to “clear his name“. Dozens of victims who had waited 13 years for the proceedings, which are broadcast live on national television, packed the upper galleries of the purpose-built courtroom. Camara, 58, and the other defendants face a litany of accusations from murder to sexual violence, kidnappings, arson, and looting, and Camara himself is charged with “personal criminal responsibility and command responsibility” over the crimes. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, on Wednesday (28 September) called on Guinean authorities to respect international law, namely witness protection and the presumption of innocence. Meanwhile, Pramila Patten, a UN special representative, congratulated the ruling junta for its “display of political will” for moving ahead with the trial.